Monday, March 7, 2011

God is a nudist, seriously

More of what I've been working on:

To plagiarize C.S. Lewis, We all carry the weight of glory. Glory being the nakedness of God. If seen for who we are, we would more closely resemble angelic beings than mere animals stuck in meat suits.

This raises the stakes in how we relate to each other and to God. To paraphrase Lewis, we have never met a mere mortal. This places a huge burden on us to love others in relation to who God has made them rather than what we see on the surface. We do not possess the right to deny compassion to those God endowed with beauty and love. In the end, each may fall like Lucifer or rise like Christ, but until then, the burden is on us to love.

An often unstated aspect of ‘glory’ is nakedness. The “glory” of God is the “nakedness” of God - the pure revelation of who He is.

Miroslav Volf, in his book Free of Charge, addresses the issue of a seemingly petty or emotionally incomplete God who desires/needs others to give him glory. Volf states:

But we don’t need to give up on the idea that God seeks God’s own glory. We just need to say that God’s glory, which is God’s very being, is God’s love, the creative love that wants to confer good upon the beloved. Now the problem of a self-seeking God has disappeared, and the divinity of God’s love is vindicated. In seeking God’s own glory, God merely insists on being toward human beings the God who gives.

The image emerging from the shadows of obligation and payment owed, becomes one of participation and revelation. The glory God seeks, the glory God demands, is not a product of our creation, used to fuel a Zeus-like ego; rather, it is the participation in the revelation of God’s nature and desire in creation.

Do we believe we can bring God - the creator of the universe, giver of all, more beautiful than all the sunsets scattered across the horizons from the day of creation till the end of days – glory through our faulted and imperfect actions, or is it through our actions the glory of God is revealed? Does marriage glorify God or does marriage reveal the glory of God?

Marriage, love given others, worship for the sake of worship, tithes, prayers, etc. do not add to God or endow Him with any greater glory, you can't make the ocean more the ocean. These actions reveal and participate in the fullness of God, His identity and nature, which is His glory. To make God naked in the world, through our actions, thoughts, and words, is the greatest honor we can give God. To say, “This is who God Is.”, and have Him agree, is to say and give everything that can be said or given.
As our understanding of God’s desire for “His own glory” develops we see an amazing transition in how we relate to God. Watch what happens when we substitute "nakedness" for "glory" in a handful of scriptural passages:

“The heavens declare the nakedness of God; the sky displays his handiwork.” - Psalm 19:1
“When Jesus heard this, he said, “This sickness will not lead to death, but to God’s nakedness, so that the Son of God may be revealed through it.”” – John 11:4
“Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you would see the nakedness of God?”” - John 11:40
“But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked intently toward heaven and saw the nakedness of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” – Acts 7:55
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the nakedness of God.” – Romans 3:23
“Receive one another, then, just as Christ also received you, to God’s nakedness.” – Romans 15:7
“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the nakedness of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31
“For a man should not have his head covered, since he is the image and nakedness of God.” – 1 Corinthians 11:7a
And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the nakedness of God, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:18
“…and the temple was filled with smoke from God’s nakedness and from his power. Thus no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues from the seven angels were completed.” – Revelation 15:8
“The city possesses the nakedness of God; its brilliance is like a precious jewel, like a stone of crystal-clear jasper.” – Revelation 21:11
“The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the nakedness of God lights it up, and its lamp is the Lamb.” – Revelation 21:23

All joking aside, the exchange of nakedness for glory adds an intense intimacy and clarity to these passages. No longer is the purpose, or the power, linked to some ethereal concept or self-aggrandizement. The purpose and power of God is now linked with the clarity of His self-revelation. We can do all things to the glory of God, a concept difficult to conceptualizing, because everything good, everything of value, even in the most pedestrian way, has the capacity to reveal God.

The love of a father to a son, even in a secular family, reveals the nakedness of God in His desire for His creation. A father’s love for his son mimics, and in fact participates in, the nature of God. A Muslim man loving his child glorifies God, regardless of his or your theology, because through participation in God’s nature, the beauty of God is revealed and affirmed. God does not receive more glory; rather, the fullness of His glory comes more into light.

1 comment:

  1. Wow bro, we are so much on the same page on so much of this stuff it kinda weirds me out sometimes. I was discussing exactly this (however, from an exegetical standpoint looking at "the image of God" particularly with reference to worship) a few weeks ago. Same picture, different way of getting there.